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Measure portion size and calorie intake with a dinner plate

Measure portion size and calorie intake with a dinner plate

It’s one thing to be told to eat smaller portions, but a whole other thing to understand what smaller portions look like. The same goes for visualizing how many calories are contained in the food you put on your plate. A new Kickstarter campaign could help you better evaluate the portion sizes and calorie counts you’re putting on your dinner plate.

The SmartPlate analyzes what you’re about to eat by identifying what’s sitting on the surface of your plate, and transmits the identification and weight data to a corresponding mobile app. With three digital cameras and image recognition technology, the SmartPlate helps you make better food choices by learning to control your portions and calorie intake.

Learn more about the SmartPlate from Mashable.com.

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3 internal health factors that can prevent weight loss

3 internal health factors that can prevent weight loss

If you’ve been struggling with weight loss lately, it’s possible you could be suffering from one or more internal health problems preventing you from meeting your goals. While most people attribute weight gain and obesity to lack of exercise and poor nutrition, many fail to realize there are numerous other factors that can contribute to weight gain. For example, certain types of medications can cause you to retain water and gain weight, whereas foods that contain additives and chemicals can throw your hormones off-balance and trigger weight gain.

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6 habits practiced by most fit and healthy people

6 habits practiced by most fit and healthy people

If you’re an individual who struggles with weight and weight-loss problems, you may think that the secrets to becoming slim are exercising regularly and going on a diet. However, fit and healthy people often don’t view exercise and good nutrition as something they have to do to lose weight; instead, these healthy habits are already considered a normal way of life for these individuals.

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5 fun ways to eat more leafy greens

5 fun ways to eat more leafy greens

Talk to any dietitian, nutritionist, or weight-loss surgeon about the types of foods you should eat to become healthier and lose weight, they’ll most likely inform you to consume leafy greens with every meal. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help provide you with long-lasting energy, boost immune system function, and reverse or reduce inflammation.

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Weight-loss apps worth trying

Weight-loss apps worth trying

Losing weight can be difficult, especially when you’re faced with tempting foods that pop up throughout your day. You may be accustomed to sitting in front of the television or movie screen with salty snacks, and that can be a difficult habit to change.

If you’re looking for a new, fun way to lose weight, here are two awesome new mobile apps you’ll want to try out:

Fast Food Nutrition Calories

This app gives you all the nutritional information you need to know when you’re out and about. It’s got the low-down on everything from a Mexican Pizza to your favorite Blizzard.

Fooducate

In addition to focusing on losing weight, it’s important to start building sustainable habits that will help you keep the weight off. That comes with educating yourself about foods and healthy habits, which is what this app is all about.

Learn more about each of these weight-loss apps from TheDailyMeal.com.

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Healthy snacking can help you lose weight

Healthy snacking can help you lose weight

When you think about a healthy diet, snacking probably doesn’t come to mind. However, experts are now saying that healthy snacking between meals may prevent you from feeling extremely hungry come mealtime, and can keep your fat-burning metabolism going. 

The rules of snacking according to the American Fitness Professionals & Associates are:

  1. Consume nutrient-dense foods.
  2. Eat only when you’re hungry.
  3. Eat smaller portions.
  4. Be mindful of your snacking habits.

Remember that eating in front of your computer screen or television can work against your mindful eating habits. In addition, think about packing snacks that are rich in protein and fiber.

For more information about healthy snacking, visit the AFPA website.

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3 hormones that could interfere with weight loss

3 hormones that could interfere with weight loss

The human body naturally produces a number of different hormones that support healthy overall bodily function. Hormones play vital roles in your body’s cellular metabolism, reproduction and sexual development, heart rate, digestion, and more. When you’re in good health and your body functions optimally, your hormone levels can maintain a healthy balance. However, some unhealthy lifestyle habits could result in hormonal imbalance and increase the risk for diseases such as obesity and cancer. Contributing factors may include poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep.

If you’ve been experiencing difficulty losing weight through diet and exercise alone, it’s possible you’re not making progress due to hormonal imbalance. Here are three hormones that can affect your weight-loss progress, as well as tips on how you can balance these hormones in a healthy manner.

1. Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone that rises and fluctuates when you experience any type of stress, whether it’s from coping with unruly family members or putting in too many hours at work. Cortisol can cause your body to store more fat, especially in your abdominal region, and makes your other hormones go into overdrive to counteract the rising cortisol levels. Hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin can rise when cortisol rises, and lead to overeating and cravings for junk food. Most individuals under stress tend to sleep less and make poor nutrition choices.

The most ideal way to balance your body’s cortisol levels is to find new ways to manage stress, or work on eliminating stressors from your life. Start exercising regularly, find new enjoyable hobbies, or if possible, remove yourself from situations that cause undue stress.

2. Estrogen

Estrogen is more commonly associated with females, but men also produce estrogen in smaller amounts. Estrogen imbalance, which is also sometimes be referred to as estrogen dominance, can lead to weight gain and increase your risk for other health problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and breast cancer. Estrogen imbalance can be caused by excess exposure to free radicals and toxins, poor nutrition, smoking, stress, and alcohol abuse. To balance your body’s estrogen levels, start exercising regularly and consume a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, protein, and healthy fats. Eating fresh, whole foods can help your body flush out excess estrogen.

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4 breakfast mistakes you could be making

4 breakfast mistakes you could be making

You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many Americans either don’t eat enough or skip the meal completely. In this episode of the Marilyn Denis show, naturopath Mubina Jiwa discusses the four main mistakes we’re making when it comes to breakfast.

Mistake #1: Skipping breakfast

Your body needs nutrients when you wake up, and eating breakfast can fuel you at the beginning of the day. Not eating any food at all can make it more difficult to wake up properly and be cognitively ready to get things done.

Mistake #2: Not eating enough for breakfast

Jiwa recommends consuming approximately 400 calories for breakfast, 600 calories for lunch, and 500 calories for dinner to maintain a 1,500-calorie diet.

Mistake #3: Eating sugary foods

Brands tend to add sugar to fat-free and low-fat foods for flavoring, which can cause individuals who buy these processed foods to consume more sugar. Eating too much sugar can put you at risk of multiple health conditions. Jiwa recommends that women consume no more than five teaspoons of sugar per day, and that men consume no more than eight teaspoons. Many breakfast cereals contain about four teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Mistake #4: Not consuming enough fat

Research shows that eating good, healthy fats can help you stay full for longer. Consuming foods with good fats at every meal can help reduce cravings throughout the day.

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How to maintain your energy levels all day long

How to maintain your energy levels all day long

Have you ever skipped the gym or your workout session due to being tired and lacking energy? Many individuals say that the reason they don’t exercise regularly is that they lack the energy needed to get in an effective workout. While many people chalk up lack of energy to either not getting enough sleep or working too hard, the truth is that many individuals lack energy as a result of practicing one or more unhealthy lifestyle habits that zap their energy.

Unfortunately, if you lack the energy to exercise, you may also lack the energy to maintain a healthy diet, drink enough water, and practice the healthy habits needed to help you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Are you trying to lose weight, but have difficulty mustering up energy on a daily basis? Check out the following ways to maintain your energy levels all day long, from the time you wake up, to the time you hit the hay.

Morning habits

  • Avoid hitting the snooze button. While you may be tempted to hit the snooze button, make a habit of getting up as soon as the alarm goes off. Otherwise, you’ll have a more difficult time waking up, and you’ll expend extra energy doing so.
  • Drink water as soon as you wake up. Water will jump-start your digestive system and help stimulate a bowel movement, while also providing your body with an immediate burst of energy. Keep water on your nightstand to sip upon waking up.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. Consume a healthy mixture of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs to help balance your blood sugar first thing in the morning. Avoid eating sugary donuts, muffins, and pastries, which could cause you to crash early on in the day.
  • Do a morning workout. Exercise actually provides you with lasting energy, which is why it’s ideal to exercise first thing in the morning. Studies even show that morning exercisers tend to burn fat and calories more efficiently.

Afternoon habits

  • Go outside for fresh air. Fresh air can provide you with renewed energy and a fresh perspective on the tasks you’re trying to accomplish. Even if you’re stuck at work, take a break to step outside for 15 minutes for a walk or lunch break.
  • Swap out coffee for tea. If you’re used to slurping on coffee throughout the morning and afternoon, switch to drinking green tea. Tea won’t be as intense on your body, and is less likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep habits than coffee.
  • Eat healthy snacks. Instead of turning to fast food or vending machine foods for convenience, stick to snacking on nuts, vegetables, and fruits, which will naturally provide your body with a burst of healthy energy. Salty and sugary foods can actually drain your energy levels.

Evening habits

  • Lower your alcohol intake. Many individuals say alcohol helps them fall asleep after a hard day’s work. But in actuality, alcohol can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and either cause you to wake up later in the night, or leave you feeling even more exhausted come morning. Try to omit or limit your alcohol intake at nighttime.
  • Stop using electronics. The light emitted by mobile phones, tablets, computers, and television can interfere with your sleep patterns, and sometimes make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Stop using all electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Make sleep a priority. A good night’s sleep will help you feel energized the following day. Make sleep a priority in your life, and stop staying up late to watch movies, play video games, and read books. Aim to get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night for lasting energy levels.
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3 healthy foods to include in every meal

3 healthy foods to include in every meal

When most people think about the types of foods that make up a balanced diet, they tend to think of the classic food pyramid, or the more recently updated MyPlate, which is the food guide created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to replace the pyramid in 2011. According to the USDA, your meals should be composed of 30 percent grains, 40 percent vegetables, 10 percent fruits, and 20 percent protein, accompanied by a small portion of dairy such as a glass of milk or yogurt.

However, if you’re trying to lose weight and eat cleaner, there may be an easier way to get the nutrients you need without having to make your plate as diverse as the USDA recommends. The optimal meal should be composed of phytonutrients, healthy fats, and protein. Not only can these foods help you reach your weight-loss goals, but they can help you work toward achieving an overall healthier you with fewer health problems.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are otherwise known as plant compounds, and are found in fruits, vegetables, and greens. The more phytonutrients you consume, the more effective you’ll be at reducing inflammation, regulating your blood sugar, improving immune system function, and much more. Try to eat fruits and vegetables in raw form as much as possible to benefit from the nutrients these foods offer in the form of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When you do cook phytonutrients, either steam or lightly sautée them; most other cooking methods will kill off the nutrients in these superfoods.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are unsaturated fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Healthy fats will provide your body with the lasting energy it needs throughout the day, and are ideal to consume before and after workouts. Examples of healthy fats are olive oil, salmon, nuts, and avocado. Add healthy fats to your meals whenever possible, and start cooking all meals using olive oil instead of margarine or butter.

Protein

Typically, many Americans view red meat as the best source of protein, but there are multiple forms of protein that are far healthier for your body, such as fish, chicken, beans, and quinoa. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissue, and to make hormones, enzymes, and other important natural chemicals. Protein is an important part of your diet, but will benefit your health only if you choose healthy sources of protein. Try to eliminate red meats and beef from your diet, and try sticking to alternate sources of protein that won’t readily contribute to weight gain or heart disease.

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LAP-BAND diet stages [Infographic]

In the weeks following LAP-BAND® surgery, you’ll need to follow a post-operative diet that will allow your stomach to heal and grow accustomed to its new changes. The stages of your diet plan post-surgery will include the clear liquid phase, the full liquids phase, the pureed food phase, and the soft foods phase. After you complete all three diet phases, you will begin eating solid foods, but in much smaller portions than before the procedure.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about LAP-BAND diet stages and see a list of approved foods for each phase.

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Tips on healthy living from Parisians

Tips on healthy living from Parisians

When you think about how other cultures manage to stay thin, you may chalk it up to them being from another country and practicing different lifestyle habits. However, Americans may be able to benefit from learning what people do in other countries to stay thin. One Parisian native sat down with Shape Magazine to share her favorite diet, exercise, and healthy-living tips.

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12 superfoods that can help fight stress

12 superfoods that can help fight stress

Certain moods can affect what you eat, and how you feel afterwards. If you’re bored, you may just grab anything within reach. If you’re happy, you may indulge in something more sweet. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay on track with good nutrition if you’re in a particular mood and want something specific to eat, especially when you’re experiencing stress.

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Eat soy in moderation to protect your health

Eat soy in moderation to protect your health

In recent years, there has been much confusion over whether soy is good or bad for your health. Some health experts say that soy products offer a number of health benefits and can contribute to weight loss, whereas others say soy can increase your risk for cancer and hormonal imbalance. Given the many different resources that highlight the pros and cons of soy, how do you know what’s really true?

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Anti-inflammatory foods that can help you lose weight

Anti-inflammatory foods that can help you lose weight

Inflammation is your body’s way of reacting to trauma, and is a vital part of the healing process when you become sick or injured. For example, when you fall down and skin your knees, the redness and sensation of burning that follows is your body’s way of mending and healing itself. However, inflammation can also occur inside of your body, especially when you consume drugs, chemicals, and other toxins that don’t naturally belong inside the human body.

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8 easy weight-loss hacks

8 easy weight-loss hacks

Visit any social-driven news media website such as Buzzfeed or Mashable, and you’ll find numerous articles that feature life “hacks.” When used in this context, hacks are easy, quick solutions to problems. When it comes to weight loss, most individuals want the easiest and fastest possible solution. Losing weight through diet and exercise alone often takes months or years, depending on the amount of excess weight you need to lose. Unfortunately, since excess weight can trigger a slew of serious health problems, not everyone has the time and patience to spend years working toward their weight-loss goals.

However, the following eight weight-loss hacks could help you reach your weight-loss goals even sooner!

1. Drink more water

If you’ve grown up drinking sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks, you might find water too boring. However, water is highly important for weight loss, as it offers a number of health benefits, such as more frequent bowel movements, the lubrication of joints, the flushing out of toxins and wastes, and much more. Drinking more water throughout the day can also reduce hunger and cravings. Toss out all other drinks, and stick to drinking water as much as possible. Adding some lemon, orange slices, or cucumber to your water will add some extra flavor that may motivate you to drink more.

2. Stick a mirror on your refrigerator door

Research shows that those who post mirrors on their refrigerators are less likely to make poor decisions in regards to diet and nutrition, since it reminds them about their weight-loss goals. If you’re prone to snacking or visiting the kitchen regularly out of habit, stick a mirror on the door of your refrigerator.

3. Use smaller plates and glasses

Smaller plates can trick you into eating smaller portion sizes, whereas larger plates can indirectly influence you to fill up and cover the entire plate with food. Pack away your larger plates, and just stick to using small snack plates and thin drinking glasses to lose weight more quickly.

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The pros and cons of looking at #foodporn

The pros and cons of looking at #foodporn

If you spend time on Twitter and Instagram, chances are you’ve seen your fair share of food photos labeled with the hashtag, ”#foodporn.” Encompassing photos that range from simple bowls of fruit, to hot sandwiches piled with mounds of gooey cheese, to delectable-looking hot fudge sundaes, the #foodporn hashtag allows foodies to ogle other people’s proudest culinary creations. However, new research shows that looking at too much food porn could be ruining your appetite.

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7 “lazy” ways to lose excess weight

7 “lazy” ways to lose excess weight

Weight loss may be challenging, frustrating, and exhausting, but if you work hard at it, weight loss can also be highly rewarding. Many Americans tend to start and stop pursuing their weight-loss goals repeatedly because of the sweat and dedication they’re required to put in to lose excess pounds. This is partly due to why many Americans also pursue fad diets and bogus weight-loss products; they simply want to lose weight in the easiest manner possible without having to exert themselves too much.

While being lazy is the last mindset you want to have when it comes to losing weight, there are actually a number of relatively small lifestyle changes you can make to become thinner without necessarily having to exert yourself. Eating healthy foods, practicing good sleep habits, and having a positive attitude are just a few healthy behaviors that could be considered “lazy” and don’t require you to exert yourself too much to lose weight.

Exercise is still an important part of any weight-loss plan, but by practicing the following “lazy” habits, you can jump-start your weight-loss journey even sooner. Check out the following “lazy” ways to drop and keep off excess weight.

1. Sip on caffeine

Some weight-loss experts say that drinking caffeine can boost your body’s calorie-burning process for up to three hours following consumption. Consult with your health care provider prior to adding coffee to your diet to determine whether this habit will benefit your health, especially if you’ve had weight-loss surgery. Or, stick to drinking green, white, or black teas to benefit from both caffeine and antioxidative properties.

2. Sit on a stability ball

Swap your office chair or recliner at home for a large stability ball. Studies have shown that sitting on a stability ball can burn off more than 260 calories per day if you forego a regular chair for the ball.

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Should I eat this?! Addressing the confusion around dieting

Should I eat this?! Addressing the confusion around dieting

Many sources you’ll come across on the Internet offer different, even contradictory advice on proper weight-loss dieting. If you are working on developing better eating habits as part of your lifestyle, it’s best to understand which practices are best, and which ones you should avoid. Having a clear understanding of how to diet properly will help prevent you from regressing back to old eating habits (known as the “yo-yo effect”) and gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose. Here are five common questions about weight loss.

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Don’t empty your kitchen yet! Low-calorie ingredient options for your favorite meals

Don’t empty your kitchen yet! Low-calorie ingredient options for your favorite meals

A key component to maintaining a healthy diet is monitoring your daily calorie intake. Many weight-loss diets have a lower maximum recommended daily intake of calories than the average diet. But don’t worry about clearing out your kitchen and completely restocking it just yet. You can still enjoy many of your favorite foods by replacing certain ingredients. “24 Food Swaps That Slash Calories” by Health provides a variety of low-calorie options for different takes on familiar recipes. Some of these options include:

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Natural sugars vs. added sugars on nutrition labels

Natural sugars vs. added sugars on nutrition labels

With multiple options to choose from in grocery stores, many consumers rely on nutrition labels to help them better understand which food products are best for their health. Food labels can provide you with useful information about the food’s contents, such as the number of calories in each serving. Unfortunately, food labels fail to demonstrate the difference between natural sugars and added sugars. Research has shown that the human body has difficulty processing the large amounts of sugar added to many processed foods. High levels of added sugar intake can lead to the development of health conditions such as  type 2 diabetes and liver disease.

The FDA is fighting to make it a requirement for food companies to display the amount of natural sugars versus added sugars on food labels. Knowing the ratio of added sugars versus natural sugars can help you determine which food products are best for your health.

Learn more about the FDA’s proposal for updated nutrition labels from the LA Times article, “Sugar in food is poorly labeled, and the industry likes it that way.”

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Can I Follow Whole30 After Bariatric Surgery? by Catherine V.

Can I Follow Whole30 After Bariatric Surgery? by Catherine V.

Of all the diet Google searches done in 2014, Whole30 was in the top 5 and it still retains its popularity. Whole30 is based off the New York Times Best Seller, It Starts With Food, written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. The premise of the program is for 30 days -- roughly a month - you commit to a diet that is high in protein, vegetables, some fruit, nuts, and oils. You avoid legumes (beans and peanuts), dairy products, grains, added sugar, and any processed food. Whole30 strongly resembles the ever-popular paleo diet. During this 30-day diet, the creators claim you will see improvement in a variety of health conditions from diabetes to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), not to mention weight loss.

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Don’t give up these healthy “vices”

Don’t give up these healthy “vices”

When it comes to eating healthy, many dietitians will recommend cutting back on your favorite vices. However, if you look at some of benefits of all the foods you eat, you may not have to completely give up some of your favorite treats.

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5 healthy foods you might be eating incorrectly

5 healthy foods you might be eating incorrectly

While you may have the best intentions at heart when it comes to adding healthy foods to your diet, you may not be aware that you might be eating some superfoods incorrectly. For example, yogurt is generally considered healthy, but only if it contains live cultures and isn’t loaded with sugar and other additives. Or, perhaps you’ve added plenty of vegetables to your diet, but aren’t benefitting from the nutrients they offer as a result of boiling or overcooking them.

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Cutting calories isn’t the only part of weight loss, says new study

Cutting calories isn’t the only part of weight loss, says new study

New fad diets sprout up constantly, but new research says that you may not want to dismiss the following new diet plan. Calories are not the only part of the equation when it comes to weight loss, and the Zero Belly Diet plan focuses on changing your genes to help you lose weight.

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3 strange weight-loss tricks that really work

3 strange weight-loss tricks that really work

While diet and exercise may be the traditional go-to methods for weight loss, there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. When conventional weight-loss methods fail to work and you feel stuck in a rut, you may feel tempted to try various outside-of-the-box weight-loss methods on your mission to slimming down.

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Drink tea to sleep better, lose weight, relieve stress, and more!

Drink tea to sleep better, lose weight, relieve stress, and more!

You’ve seen more and more teas available in restaurants and trendy coffee shops, and perhaps you’re a tea lover yourself. In the US, tea drinking is on the rise and that’s a good thing, since the different varieties and options keep your palette bubbling with anticipation of new flavors.

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3 behaviors you should practice after every workout

3 behaviors you should practice after every workout

A sweaty, intense workout can sometimes be taxing on your body and mind, especially if you’re an extremely busy person. As soon as your workout is over, you may be tempted to immediately jump in the car so you can address everything else that needs to be done that day. As a result, you may forget to stretch, shower, and eat. However, the behaviors you practice within the first 30 minutes after your workout are crucial to recovery, and can either make or break your results depending on what you do.

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7 ways to think more like a skinny person

7 ways to think more like a skinny person

If you are an individual who struggles with your weight, it’s understandable that you might feel irritated or resentful from time to time when you watch skinny people do the same things you do without experiencing the same difficulties. For example, why does it seem like all skinny people eat to live, instead of live to eat? Where do they get their energy? How are they able to exercise intensely without feeling like dying afterwards? If you ask skinny people how these things are possible, they’ll tell you that no magic is involved; it’s simply due to their lifestyle habits.

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Could a simple device help with weight loss?

Could a simple device help with weight loss?

A new device developed by a Michigan bariatric surgeon could help people lose weight and be an alternative option for weight-loss surgery. Dr. Randy Baker of Grand Rapids used an esophageal stent to help a patient with complications from gastric bypass regain the ability to eat solid foods again.

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New study suggests chemical therapy could aid in weight loss

New study suggests chemical therapy could aid in weight loss

Have you tried everything when it comes to losing weight? The trendy diets and the latest exercise routines? Science may have figured out a way to burn calories another way, but the question is would you do it?

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4 reasons you're facing intense food cravings

4 reasons you're facing intense food cravings

Do you ever feel that your day won’t be complete unless you satisfy a specific food craving? Have you ever gotten upset over not being able to eat your favorite dessert or drink your favorite soda? Most people experience food cravings from time to time, but what many don’t know is that intense food cravings usually indicate a certain level of nutritional deficiency.

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Rosie O’Donnell opens up to Dr. Oz about weight-loss surgery

Rosie O’Donnell opens up to Dr. Oz about weight-loss surgery

When attempting to lose weight, you end up trying almost every diet imaginable. Rosie O’Donnell admits to even looking up former President Bill Clinton’s diet and trying it for a few months.

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6 manageable ways to decrease portion sizes

6 manageable ways to decrease portion sizes

Whether you’re eating at a restaurant or ordering take-out, it’s hard to deny that today’s portion sizes are bigger than ever before. It’s no longer surprising that every time you dine out, you’re having to ask your server to box up the remainder of your meal so you can take it home to eat later.

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The amount of water needed to fuel your diet and weight loss

The amount of water needed to fuel your diet and weight loss

When questioning how much water your body needs on a daily basis to stay hydrated and healthy, you’ll be faced with many different answers. Some say you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day, whereas others say you should only drink water when your body feels thirsty. So what’s the correct answer?

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The role of breakfast in weight loss

Many people often skip breakfast thinking that it’s a great way to cut back on calories. Some people even feel that it’s convenient to skip breakfast if they’re short on time and in a rush to get to work, or if they’re simply too tired to put the effort into preparing and eating a meal first thing in the morning.

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The real story about dark chocolate and weight loss

If you’ve tried to lose weight through conventional methods of diet and exercise, or if you’ve recently undergone weight-loss surgery, chocolate could be the last thing on your mind. Or, if you’ve been sticking strong to your diet, you may be working hard to battle those occasional cravings you get for sweets such as chocolate.

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The ins and outs of “processed” food

When it comes to food in the world of dieting and weight loss, the term “processed” has been associated with obesity and poor health. The most recognizable types of processed foods may be boxed meals, frozen dinners, and fast-food meals; however, many don’t know that some foods touted as “healthy,” such as whole-wheat breads, chopped and canned fruits, and homemade soups, may also be processed or contain processed ingredients.

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The health benefits of mushrooms and how to add them to your diet

A number of previous medical studies conducted on the benefits of mushrooms have shown that this very nutritious vegetable has the ability to enhance weight loss, improve nutritional habits and immune system function, and increase your body’s levels of vitamin D. Mushrooms have also been shown to contain properties that reduce inflammation and could improve problems with asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke damage, and renal failure.

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Tips for transitioning to healthier eating

As obesity rates continue to climb in the United States, more and more people are starting to make the effort to lose weight and transition to clean, healthy eating. Every year, millions of Americans commit to exercising more, eating healthier, and doing whatever it takes to help them lose weight.

Realistically, only a small percentage of those Americans are actually able to follow through with their weight-loss goals, and many attribute their failure to difficulties with transitioning over to a healthy diet.

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“Fat-free” foods aren’t always the best choice for weight loss

Many food manufacturers produce “weight-loss” foods that are advertised with “low-fat” and “fat-free” options to persuade consumers to make healthier choices and purchase their products. However, in reality, foods advertised as low-fat and fat-free often replace monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — also known as “good” fats — with high-carb ingredients, or harmful preservatives and chemicals that have far worse effects on overall good body health.

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Tips for eating out after weight-loss surgery

Eating out at restaurants after undergoing weight-loss surgery can be just as enjoyable, if not more, than it was prior to surgery. Considering your stomach is much smaller and is limited to smaller portions, you can either take joy in sharing meals with others, eating smaller dishes such as appetizers, and best of all, take at least half of your meal home to eat later on.

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Preparing your kitchen for LAP-BAND surgery

Immediately following LAP-BAND® surgery, your bariatric surgeon will place you on a strict diet so your body can adjust safely and healthily to the band itself. For the first few days after surgery, you’ll be restricted to liquids only. After the post-surgical liquid diet phase, you’ll eventually move on to thicker liquids such as soup and soft foods until your stomach has become completely healed and adjusted to the band.

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Preventing bone loss after bariatric surgery

Preventing bone loss after bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery has become increasingly popular in the United States, especially with the continuous rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Depending on the type of bariatric surgery you receive, you may be at higher risk for bone loss after your procedure. However, bone loss can be prevented if you take the right steps to eat healthy foods and perform strength-training exercises on a regular basis post-surgery.

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Probiotics may improve results after weight loss surgery

Studies suggest that the use of probiotics may improve weight loss and other outcomes after weight-loss surgery.

Probiotics are a type of microorganism that exist naturally in the human digestive tract. Probiotics are considered "good" bacteria that help your body digest food and keep other types of harmful bacteria under control. However, certain factors, such as a diet high in sugar or extended use of antibiotics, can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the gut, leading to digestive disorders and other health problems. According to Mayo Clinic, research indicates that probiotics may help treat diarrhea, prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections, relieve irritable bowel syndrome, prevent and treat eczema, speed recovery from certain infections, and reduce the severity of colds or the flu.

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Salad suggestions for LAP-BAND patients

LAP-BAND patients can usually reintroduce salads into their diets at two to three months after surgery; your doctor may give you the green light to start eating salads even sooner. Salads are a great way to get vital nutrients, including your daily protein intake. However, some LAP-BAND patients find they are unable to tolerate lettuce and raw veggies, so you may need to experiment to determine what works for you.

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Protein drinks may contain dangerous ingredients

Protein is an important nutrient for Lap-Band patients: it is essential for maintaining muscle mass, growing healthy hair and nails, and achieving optimum weight loss.

Many Lap-Banders get their daily protein intake from protein shakes, but patients should exercise caution when using protein powders. Most – if not all – contain MSG, which can cause migraines and a multitude of other health problems.

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Realistic resolutions

If you've pledged to renew your commitment to weight loss and healthier habits in the new year, you're not alone. According to health experts, weight loss tops the resolution list for most Americans. Unfortunately, less than half keep their commitment after six months. Rather than becoming a part of this statistic, make 2012 the year you shape up and meet your goals with these five tips.

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Staying slim and sane during the holidays

It's that time of the year again. The holidays are here, and the calories are calling your name.

When it comes to losing weight, the holiday season can be difficult - particularly for WLS patients. Though proper restriction can help combat hunger for lap-banders, temptation tends to strike when you have to watch those around you indulging in their favorite holiday foods. What's a WLS patient to do?

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Pushing past weight-loss plateaus

LAP-BAND patients sometimes find that their weight plateaus several months after surgery. These periods of stagnation can be extremely frustrating: you may be doing everything you can to follow your doctor's and nutritionist's advice, but the numbers on the scale still aren't budging. Getting past these rough spots may require switching up your routine and re-examining some of your habits.

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